Descendents – 9th & Walnut (Album Review)

Descendents – 9th & Walnut
Released: July 23, 2021

Line Up (during recording of this album):

Milo Aukerman// vocals
Frank Navetta // guitar (d. 2008)
Tony Lombardo // bass
Bill Stevenson // drums

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Descendents release 9th & Walnut this Friday, a collection of songs that have previously been unreleased from the band’s humble beginnings in 1977 until 1980. However, rather than being recordings from that time, these songs, most of which were never released, were revisited and recorded in 2002 with Navetta on guitar, Lombardo on bass and Stevenson on drums. After Navetta’s death in 2008, the project was put on indefinite hold until the pandemic, when Milo Aukerman recorded vocals. 

The title, 9th & Walnut, refers to their Long Beach practice space during the early years, and the album itself is a history lesson of the band’s beginnings. The first tracks, ‘Sailor’s Choice’, ‘Crepe Suzette’, ‘You Make Me Sick’, ‘Lullaby’, ‘Nightage (the longest track on the entire album at 2 minutes 22 seconds) are very much a reflection of the Oi! subgenre of punk, that was prominent during the late 70s.

As the album progresses we see a subtle but definite change in sound to the songs, while still maintaining an underground, dirty, garage 1970s tone throughout. However, writing songs during your late teens, and as young adults, lyrically and musically, your songs are going to be vastly different to what you do during adulthood, which is shown in songs such as Baby Doncha Know’, ‘I’m Shaky’, ‘Like The Way I Know’, ‘Yore Disguising’, songs with simplistic lyrics, and an undertone of angst.

‘Ride The Wild’ and It’s A Hectic World’ would be of particular interest to Descendents fans, with Aukerman providing vocals compared to the original 1979 release (as Aukerman joined the band in 1980), to see how the Aukerman version stacks up against to the old release. The album ends with a cover of David Clarke Five’s ‘Glad All Over’ a song, that even with a punk rock Descendents version still sounds very much like the swinging sixties.

9th & Walnut is not the album to introduce your friends to Descendents, unless they have a specific predilection for late 1970s punk rock. However for fans, it is an interesting retrospective of what the band was and how much they have changed. Even then, unless you’re a die hard fan, I would be surprised if this was on your high rotation list, as 9th & Walnut is very much a representation of a particular time and place and not the best of what Descendents can do.

Descendents – 9th & Walnut tracklisting:

1. Sailor’s Choice
2. Crepe Suzette
3. You Make Me Sick
4. Lullaby
5. Nightage
6. Baby Doncha Know
7. Tired Of Being tired
8. I’m Shaky
9. Grudge
10. Mohicans
11. Like The Way I Know
12. It’s a Hectic World
13. To Remember
14. Yore Disgusting
15. It’s My Hair
16. I Need Some
17. Ride The Wild
18. Glad All Over

Rating: 6.5/10
9th & Walnut is out Friday on Epitaph Records. Pre-Order here
Review by Carys Hurcom @CarysWos

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